For many families, camping is a yearly traditional event. Camping is a way for families to travel and spend quality time in nature together. Additionally, for many families, camping is a financially accessible way to go on a relaxing vacation. However, for families that have a family member with sensory sensitivities, camping is not a sensory-friendly activity. This is due to the inaccessibility and sensory-rich nature of many campsites. Many people experience sensory overload. People who are autistic, neurodivergent, with hearing loss, PTSD are likely to experience their senses differently. As a result of this, many families experience difficulty planning a camping trip that fits their sensory preferences. To ensure that your campsite is comfortable for all families, consider creating a sensory-friendly campground!
This blog post will highlight aspects of campgrounds that are inaccessible and simple ways to can modify these areas to be more sensory-friendly.
What are the common inaccessible features of campsites?
You are likely curious as to what is inaccessible about many campsites. Although campsites typically do not have very much structure, there are several factors that may cause people with greater sensitivities to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed.
Firstly, many campsites are situated close together. Although this may not seem like a significant concern, it does cause campgrounds to become noisy very easily. For many people with hypersensitivities, loud noises can be extremely overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Furthermore, many campsites may be located close to roads. This can cause the sounds of car traffic to disrupt the camping experience. Therefore, having campsites located somewhat in close proximity and close to roads can be extremely problematic.
In addition to this, many children and adults with sensory processing disorders, for example struggle with a change in their routine. As a result of this, people will feel very stressed while camping as they are sleeping and waking up in unfamiliar places, engaging in different activities, eating different foods and being surrounded by a different environment. Therefore, travelling in any capacity can be very problematic due to this loss of routine.
Lastly, many campgrounds may only have sensory-rich activities for campground visitors.
How do you create a sensory-friendly campground?
You may unaware of how can modify these sensory-rich factors to make your campsite more accessible for families. However, there are several easy strategies and modifications you can implement to help make your environment more sensory-friendly.
Place the campsites in wooded and secluded areas
The first suggestion to help make your campsite sensory-friendly is by placing at least some sites in more secluded areas. This will help to limit sound transmission and create a quieter area for visitors. Furthermore, ensure that campsites are far from busy roads to prevent the sounds from traffic from impacting the noise levels. If possible, try to create limit road traffic to only local campers to prevent this issue. Ultimately, making these changes will help develop a more relaxing surrounding for families to enjoy the calming aspects of nature.
Create campsites that are farther apart
In addition to this, it is important to place campsites far apart from each other. As previously indicated, a common sensory-rich issue associated with many campsites is the close proximity to one another is the loud noise and the unfamiliarity of having strangers staying close. Therefore, ensure that campsites are separated at an appropriate distance to ensure that families feel like they have the privacy they need, even if they are not secluded.
Develop sensory-friendly campsite hours
Furthermore, another suggestion to create a more sensory-friendly campsite is developing sensory-friendly hours. These are hours that are dedicated to quiet times on all campsites. This will help create a more peaceful and relaxing environment for everyone. Consider dedicating hours within the evening and night as sensory-friendly hours, for example. Ultimately, this will limit sound transmission around bedtime to avoid disruptions. Consider making certain times at a pool or lake, quiet times, too.
Provide different sensory-friendly activities
As previously indicated, many families may struggle to keep their children entertained while on a camping trip with sensory-rich activities alone. As there are not as many easily transportable activities to bring camping, it is difficult for parents to keep their children happy while camping. To help support parents, consider providing different sensory-friendly activities on your campsites. For example, create a quiet zone with signage for more quiet play. Include accessible playground equipment and structures to include all children. Make trails with signs for scavenger hunts.
Create a social story about the campsite features
Lastly, an effective strategy to create a more sensory-friendly is by creating a social story of the camping experience for your campsite visitors. A social story is a way to communicate the sensory experience of being in a specific environment or engaging in an activity using words and pictures. A common stressor for many people with sensory processing disorders is fear of the unexpected. Therefore, providing a social story for parents to show their children the different aspects of the camping experience by showing pictures of the site and the different activities they can participate in. Ultimately, this will give them the opportunity to ask questions and begin to develop expectations about this experience that may influence their senses.
By utilizing these suggestions, you can help create a more sensory-friendly campsite for all families to enjoy. For more suggestions, consider checking out Parks Canada’s list of autism-friendly campsites. In the United States, learn about the accessibility of National Parks. By checking out these websites you will be able to find more information about accessible camping near you! If you are interested in learning more about sensory-friendly modifications, check out:
- Make your Sport or Recreation Center Sensory-Friendly
- Create a Sensory-Friendly Camp
- Make Your Beach Sensory-Friendly
Being sensory-friendly is easier with our newsletter.
Get sensory-friendly ideas and tips by email. Learn about sensory challenges. Unsubscribe at any time.